If you’re looking to travel to Croatia, you’ll want to do your research to make sure you time your visit right. Depending on what you’re interested in doing, different times of year will be better. Here is your guide to the best time to visit Croatia for foodies and wine lovers.
Croatia is perhaps best known for its picturesque coastline dotted with medieval villages, centuries-old ruins, and turquoise waters. However, this Eastern European country has so much more to offer than just its postcard-perfect beaches.
In addition to being home to some of the best wine in the world, Croatia is also a foodie’s paradise, with an abundance of locally grown produce, fresh seafood, and unique culinary traditions. So when is the best time to visit Croatia?
Here are a few examples of the best-kept secrets of Croatia’s food culture, and when you should visit for the fullest experience:
Best Time to Visit Croatia for Truffles
(September – November)
Did you know Croatia has loads of truffles? These aromatic fungi are highly prized by chefs around the world, and they fetch a high price on the market. While it’s not the first country that pops to mind when considering truffles, Croatia’s forests are bountiful.
If you’re interested in learning about truffles and how they’re harvested, plan a trip to Croatia during truffle hunting season. You can book a tour with a truffle hunting guide and their dog and spend a lovely afternoon walking the forest.
Croatia has both white and black truffles, and they are foraged at slightly different seasons. Generally, truffle season in Croatia’s Istria region is from September to February, so if you’re looking to go truffle hunting, September – November are the best times to visit. While truffles are available throughout winter, Dec-Feb can be very cold. Plus, Istria hosts a truffle fair every weekend in October.
During this time of year, many Croatian chefs offer special truffle-themed menus at their restaurants, so whether or not you head out to forage, you’ll reap the benefits at dinner.
Best Time to Visit Croatia for Wine
(September – October)
Croatia is lesser known for its wine than its western neighbor, but did you know that Croatia is home to some unique grape varietals? From Plavic Mali in Dalmatia and Malvazija in Istria all the way to the island of Grk with its one-of-kind white wine, there is much to expore.
Every September and October, Croatians celebrate the annual wine harvest with festivals featuring live music, folk dancing, and of course, plenty of wine. The ideal time to visit for these festivities is late September or early October, but keep an eye on the weather, because harvest is highly affected by changing temperatures, especially these days.
Best Time to Visit Croatia for Oysters
(October – March)
If you’re a fan of oysters, you’ll be glad to know that they are typically available year round in Croatia. The ideal time to visit to Croatia for oysters is in March, when Mali Ston hosts a 1-day oyster festival. October – March oysters are at peak freshness and are sometimes less expensive than they are at other times of year due to tourism.
One of our editors visited Mali Ston at the end of September and still had an abundant platter of fresh oysters and shellfish (see pic).
Best Time to Visit Croatia for Outdoor Exploring
(April – May)
If you love hiking, biking, and being outdoors, the best time to visit Croatia is in the springtime. From April to May, the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds than there are in the summer.
This is also a great time of year for wildlife watching, as many animals come out of hibernation during this time. So if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and explore Croatia’s stunning natural scenery, plan a trip for April or May.
One great place to visit is Plitvice Lakes National Park. This beautiful natural wonder is full of overwater boardwalks, waterfalls and 16 terraced lakes.
Best Time to Visit Croatia for Beaches
The best time to enjoy Croatia’s stunning beaches is from June to August when the sea temperatures are at their warmest. Summer is the high season and the busiest time of year, we suggest early June. The tourist crowds haven’t arrived in full swing yet, and the weather is still comfortable.
While Croatia is well-known for its beaches, the hot weather brings tourist crowds, lines at national parks, and the Adriatic coast becomes a blanket of beach chairs, especially in July and August.
Summer is also the best time to visit Croatia for music festivals. There are numerous festivals, big and small, in the city and on an island, plus every type of music imaginable.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, consider visiting Croatia in May or September instead. You can still have some relaxing beach days with sunshine on your face, but the water might be a bit too cold to swim.
The island of Brač is a great summer spot for foodies. Visit Zlatni Rat and a few other hidden gem beaches during the day, then head to one of the many superb restaurants on the island at night.
Traveling Shoulder Season is Always Smart
Peak season has its advantages, but it can also be stressful trying to find open tables at restaurants, beach loungers with good views, and everything is a little bit more expensive. Music festivals are a major draw, but peak season means hot summer months in Croatia.
That’s why traveling in shoulder seasons is always a smart way to travel. You not only save money, but you often have better weather and are able to experience your destination at a slower pace.
Visiting Croatia in spring has some added perks for foodies. For instance, Istria has an asparagus festival in April, and the town of Sinj (near Split) hosts the National Prosciutto Fair. Around the same time, many towns have cultural events and parades for Easter.
In Istria, Zigante Truffle Days is a month-long festival celebrating all things truffle. Events are held every weekend of October in Livade.
Plus, the fall months of wine harvest are only peak season for wine lovers, so it’s technically a shoulder season as well.
How to Get to Croatia
Croatia is very well connected. The main airports are in Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb. It’s easy to reach Croatia by train as well as car.
If you decide to drive, some of the historic towns require you to park outside the walls in public parking lot, but this is fairly common for old towns around Europe.
What is the rainy season in Croatia?
Rainy season, or low season, in Croatia is from October to April, but it really depends on where you plan to spend your time. The rainiest month on average is January.
How many days in Croatia is enough?
How many days do you have? Seriously, there is a lot to see, and you probably can’t see it all in one trip. We recommend devoting 10 days to seeing a few major destinations while also having a chance to relax.
What is the hottest month in Croatia?
August is exceptionally hot in Croatia (especially early August), and the sea is at its warmest. This is the high season, because most tourists come for the beach and swimming. However, it can be quite uncomfortable to climb the steps of Hvar town in August.
No matter what time of year you decide to visit Croatia, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious food and drink options to enjoy. From locally grown produce and fresh seafood to world-class wine and truffles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!